Central Catholic Raiders Boys Ice Hockey '20-'21

Wed, Jan 20, 2021 07:30 PM @ North Andover
Team 1 2 3 OT Final
Central Catholic 0 0 0 1 1
North Andover 0 0 0 0 0

Gray goal keeps Raiders undefeated

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Wednesday, January, 20 By Jeff Hamrick

HAVERHILL – It took Central Catholic almost 49 minutes to locate it, but when Sean Gray finally found the back of the net Wednesday night, the Raiders remained perfect.

The sophomore forward took a pass from senior Nick Peters just inside the blue line then skated down the left slot, beating the lone North Andover defender before rifling a backhander that rang the post with 81 seconds remaining in overtime with the game’s only score.

“Once I got the puck, I knew it was one on one,” Gray said of his fourth goal of the young season. “I knew I had to get around (the defender), so I just took my chance.”

The teams entered the contest with opposite records, but winless North Andover gave Central (3-0) its best match of the young season.

Both squads came out physical with solid checking on both ends of the ice.

After a penalty-free first period, North Andover had its best chances with a couple power plays in the second, including a five-on-three situation for 62 seconds midway through the frame. But the Knights were unable to capitalize.

“It’s something we definitely need to work on in practice,” Scarlet Knight coach Peter Marfione said. “I thought our kids put in a great effort. We just couldn’t put the puck in. It was a good hockey game. Both teams played really well.”

Central’s junior goalie Michael Brothers made 24 saves in the match, but none were more impressive than the four shots he stopped during a 10-second span of North Andover’s two-man advantage.

“Our goaltending was solid,” second-year Raider coach DJ Conte said of his netminder, who has made 62 saves while allowing three goals in three outings. “Our goaltender came up and made the saves he needed to make. Any time you have a 0-0 scoreless tie game, you know guys are working hard on the ice. We had some opportunities, but we just didn’t capitalize on those. It was a defensive battle.”

While the checking was ferocious, there were only three penalties in the match.

“I think we outplayed them,” Gray said. “But we just couldn’t put the puck in with bad bounces. I’m happy right now. It’s a better start than last year, and I think we can keep going.”

North Andover goalie Ben Williamson also had a great night, stopping each of the first 21 shots he faced, including a ferocious assault late in the second when he turned back a couple point-blank attacks.

“Ben played awesome,” Marfione said. “He’s been great for all four years he’s been here. He’s earned his time.”

With a rematch scheduled for 7:20 p.m. Saturday on the same Haverhill Valley Forum ice, Central will be looking to remain undefeated. But coming off a 14-22-8 record the previous two years, the Raider coach didn’t sound satisfied after Wednesday’s close call.

“I thought they played hard,” Conte said of his squad. “It was a nice, physical game. We had some guys trying to do too much with the puck and getting a little bit too fancy in the neutral zone. It cost us some turnovers.”

Game Statistics:

Goal: CC — Sean Gray

Assist: CC — Nick Peters

Saves: CC — Michael Brothers 24; NA — Ben Williamson 21

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